A visit in the Embassy of the Republic of Tunisia
This year’s edition of Akcja Dyplomacja has seen a couple of highly unusual meetings. Such was the visit in the Tunisian embassy, where we spoke with the ambassador exclusively in French. It was a great opportunity for the Foreign Affairs Club SGH to both learn about this great country and master the language skills in a complex discussion.
Our meeting began with a brief description of the current situation in the Tunisia. We learned about over a hundred political parties that have formed after the popular revolts and the fiery public debates being held finally after long years of censorship and centralized power. The ambassador explained to us that the 2011 events are known as ‘Révolution de Dignité et Liberté’ as opposed to the broad term of ‘Arab Spring’ used by foreign media. The mass protests were absolutely spontaneous, not led by any of the parties or political figures. The laureate of the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize – Quartet du Dialogue National, composed of 4 occupational unions and associations – served as a mediator between the establishment and different sides of the conflict. We also learned that the entire revolution could succeed because the army refused to follow orders targeting the protesters, thus siding with them against the government.
One of the key questions was about the reasons for the great numbers of foreign Daesh fighters coming from Tunisia. As we were told, the revolution showed that there was no real police power or army that could stop the flow of fighters; also the Libyan influence was an important factor, with thousands of Libyan fighters getting to Syria from the rather weakly controlled Tunisia. But as the ambassador stated, ‘terrorisme ne porte pas de passeport’ and all the countries must closely cooperate to eliminate the threat.
Our discussion concerned the Polish-Tunisian relations just as well. Poland was among the first countries to recognize the independence of Tunisia and the relations remain very good, although the commercial relations could be better. Tunisia is considered a 5th top destination for Polish tourists (the entire tourism makes up to 7% of Tunisian GDP). Bardo Museum remains one of the most eagerly visited places despite the attacks. It has a unique collection of Roman mosaics and the spirit of the greatest French architectural designs.
Many other topics have been sparked. We had the chance to learn about the culture of negotiations and bargaining in Tunisia, women rights in different Arabic countries and the contemporary relations between Tunisia and France after the colonial times. Most importantly, the ambassador reminded all of us that Poles and Tunisians share the same values – high regard towards democracy, human rights and freedom.
Author: Jan Zygmuntowski, Foreign Affairs Club